Lawmakers Chastised AIG For Resort Junket – Plans For New One Next Week

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) castigates AIG for manicures, pedicures & facials while the American People pay the bill.

After lawmakers found out that AIG Execs spent $147,000 on Banquets and rooms that cost from $425 to $1,100 dollars a night – which Rep. Cummings pointed out is more than some people pay in mortgage payments a month – Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) thundered away at them – is this fundamentally responsible. This week-long resort event cost $440,000; just days after the Feds had agreed to an $85 million dollar bailout.

To make matters worse another event has been planned for next week. According to Nicholas Ashooh, these sales meetings are very vital and that AIG has them around the world all the time.

The event, at the Ritz-Carlton in California’s Half Moon Bay, aims to “motivate and educate” about 150 independent agents who sell AIG coverage to high-end clients, said spokesman Nicholas Ashooh.

The White House, Congress and Barack Obama have lashed out at AIG for “wining and dining” executives at a weeklong conference last month at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called “despicable” expenses that included $23,000 for spa services. President George W. Bush didn’t push for the bailout “to help top executives go to a spa,” Perino said today at the daily White House briefing.

CEO Edward Liddy, told Secretary Henry Paulson – AIG needs to reevaluate expenses like $400,000 Junkets. Now they are thinking about cutting costs; these measures should have been instituted at least several years ago. Obama had this to say at last night’s debate about AIG.

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Lehman Planned Bonuses While Seeking Aid

Waxman questions Fuld about planned $23.2 Million in bonuses to Execs.

Waxman asks Lehman CEO who received $480 Million in salary, if that is fair?

Monday, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, members learned that Lehman was planning to give millions in executive bonuses, while asking for government help. As Congress tries to unravel through a series of hearings, how the collapse of Lehman’s came about.  Lawmakers are angry over Friday’s bailout vote, they wanted a face to put the blame on for the financial fiasco that has rocked Wall Street.

That face was Richard S. Fuld Jr., the Lehman chief executive who sat for a two-hour-plus grilling before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as the panel combed through his pay history, management practices and financial strategies.

“You made all this money by taking risks with other people’s money,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the panel’s chairman, said. “The system worked for you, but it didn’t seem to work for the rest of the country and the taxpayers, who now have to pay $700 billion to bail out our economy.”

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Bill Maher: VP Debate, Palin, McCain & Bailout

Bill Maher weighs in on the Vice-Presidential Debate, Sarah Palin, John McCain and the Bailout.  He talks about the Vice-President shouldn’t sound like she is hosting “Romper Room.” Maher makes fun of all the winking Palin did during the debate-calls it “very corny.” Bill Maher had a funny line on Real Time: “The good news is that Sarah Palin can complete a sentence-the bad news is that we have to listen to it.”

Bailout Nightmare Boosts Democrats – Puts Obama Out Front

The economic crisis is helping Democrats across the country. The public is demanding change and leadership, and Obama and the democrats are who they are looking towards in the market meltdown. We are seeing Virginia go blue and also a definite shift in North Carolina. Even in the NC Senate race Hagan is trouncing Dole in the polls.

This is an optimistic sign for Sen. Obama to show what a truly great President he can become. If he listens to all the evidence that points to the fact this bailout had provisions that none of us could accept.

What attracted far less notice in the bill was a set of provisions that would have given Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson virtually unfettered authority to set up and run the new organization designed to stabilize the financial system — bypassing federal acquisition rules and competitive hiring procedures in the process.

The 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act would have allowed Paulson and his eventual successor to waive provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation “upon a determination that urgent and compelling circumstances make compliance with such provisions contrary to the public interest.”

“It’s unprecedented in American history and American government,” said Donald F. Kettl, a political analyst and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “The blank check is blanker still given that we don’t know who will be signing dollar bills on Jan. 21.”

While few other details emerged about the contracting provision, it appears the language would have given Treasury the ability to award contracts of nearly any value without any competition. The prospect of a government agency with unlimited and unregulated purchasing power concerned some government observers.

What this would have allowed is for Paulson to “award contracts of nearly any value without any competition” and sidestep minority hiring procedures. These are issues most of us are not willing to concede.

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Breaking News: Smaller Banks Prosper During Crisis

The Washington Post reports that “Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets.”

Which begs the questions: With bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should any Congressman instead believe the very same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation? These same Bush officials who just months ago said our economy was fine? All seems well with the majority of small banks across the nation.

The industry is resilient despite the struggles of some members. Washington Mutual, a troubled Seattle savings and loan that was among the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, yesterday was seized by the government and sold to J.P. Morgan Chase.

At the same time, many smaller banks said they were actually benefiting from the problems on Wall Street. Deposits are flowing in as customers flee riskier investments, and well-qualified borrowers are lining up for loans.

The National Federation of Independent Business members only had 10% that said loans were harder to get in August. But only 2% cited that cost and credit as their number one business problem. However, this is well below the 37%; that noted credit as their biggest challenge in 1982.

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28 Million Dollar Ford CEO Deserves Government Bailout?

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Struggling Ford Motor Co., which posted a record $12.7 billion net loss in 2006, and posted a $2.7 billion net loss in 2007, think they merit receiving federal loans. Why should we bail out a fiscally irresponsible automobile maker that continued to make gas guzzling trucks and SUV’s? After posting the largest record loss in company history in 2006, what did Ford do to bounce back from such a devastating loss?  They hired a new CEO Alan Mulally and paid him a record setting 28 million for 4 months of work. In the same year, Ford moves ahead with plans to close plants and cut more than 30,000 hourly positions from the company in an effort to stem losses.

Well that brainstorm apparently didn’t pay off–if that same CEO is asking the government for a bailout. This is exactly why I don’t believe in government loans, in the form of bailouts, all of the CEO’s get these multi-million dollar deals which is more money than 95% of us will ever make in a lifetime. Only in America do we reward complete incompetence at a CEO level.

On top of that, these executives have accumulated so much wealth off the backs of people like you and I through cutbacks and layoffs. So what was the first task of importance to Mulally when he was hired? Oh, the company had disclosed in a footnote buried on page 228 of an earlier filing with SEC that Mulally saw the value of his stock bonuses increase to $6 million from the originally agreed upon $5 million “after reviewing the company’s 2006 performance results and Mr. Mulally’s leadership role in progressing his key priorities.” But, most salaried workers and supervisors received a modest bonus between $300 to $800, depending on their location and rank in the company that same year.

Recently, Ford initiated an ad campaign that makes the statement, “Ford’s quality is now equal to Toyota’s.” Unfortunately, this ad campaign may not be as effective for Ford as it is for Toyota. It implies two things- that Ford quality has been poor and that Toyota quality is the standard of excellence to reach. Toyota has been the most profitable car company in the world for a long time. Last year, it officially passed GM to become number one in worldwide sales; and it has passed Ford to become number two in US sales.

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